Summer 2018 - PHIL 815 G100

Selected Topics in Formal Studies (5)

Formal Epistemology

Class Number: 7165

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu, Th 2:30 PM – 4:20 PM
    WMC 3253, Burnaby



Selected Topics: Formal Epistemology 

[Note: this course is to be taught concurrently with PHIL 455W.]

Important note regarding enrollment: only Philosophy graduate students have access to this course.

Over the past decades, epistemology had become increasingly formalized, so much so that it is nowadays difficult to understand many current contributions and trends in the field without a basic understanding of its formal machinery—and this is the case, whether one favours a strictly formal, mainstream, or cognitive approach to epistemology. The main object of formal epistemology is to develop formal models that supports philosophical reasoning about how we form, transform, and transfer beliefs and knowledge. The three most common sets of formal techniques it uses are those of elementary (esp. Bayesian) probability theory, decision theory, and modal (doxastic and epistemic) logic. This course will be an advanced introduction to each sets of tools and to their philosophical applications.



  • Acquire a capacity to use elementary probability theory, decision theory, and modal logic.
  • Develop an ability to represent philosophical problems, positions, and situations with formal models.
  • Evaluate the strengths, limitations, and complementarity of formal modelling methods used in epistemology.


  • Participation (attendance and positive engagement) 5%
  • Leading class discussion 5%
  • Logic assignments (6) - see note below 30%
  • Research project: presentation -5%; peer review - 5%; final paper - 50% 60%


Graduate students who wish to make the logic component of this course qualify for the graduate logic requirement must do all six assignments and obtain at least 85% on each.



 The course material will be supplied in PDFs on Canvas.

Department Graduate Notes:

All graduate courses/sections are for Philosophy graduate students only. Students from other departments can only enroll with permission of the Philosophy department. Contact

Graduate Studies Notes:

Important dates and deadlines for graduate students are found here: The deadline to drop a course with a 100% refund is the end of week 2. The deadline to drop with no notation on your transcript is the end of week 3.

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University.